Monday, 12 January 2015


In the US, between 0.5% (via) and 4.6% of of the population report having made a suicide attempt. This is the general population. When it comes to gay, lesbian and bisexual adults, percentages range from 10 to 20%. Prevalence of lifetime suicide attempt is even more alarming among transgender individuals: On average, 41% of them have attempted to commit suicide. Percentages rise additionally if transgender individuals are younger (45%), male (46%), not hiding that they are transgender (50%), victimised at school (50-54%), discriminated against at work (50-59%), multiethnic (54%), American or Alaskan native (56%), living with a disability (55-65%), disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers (57-61%), rejected (refers to treatment rejected) by doctors or health care providers (60%), subject to physical or sexual violence by law enforcement officers (60-70%), subject to physical or sexual violence at school (63-78%), subject to physcial or sexual violence at work (64-65%), living with a mental health condition (65%), or experiencing homelessness (69%) (Haas et al., 2014). Translating the last figures into words means that it is only a minority that does not attempt to commit suicide.

Family acceptance is strongly connected with positive outcomes while family rejection is connected with negative outcomes such as homelessness (three times higher), sex work (twice as high) and suicidality. These figures raise when domestic violence at the hands of a family member is added: four times the rate of homelessness, four times the rate of sex work, double the HIV rate and double the rate of suicide attempts (Grant et al., 2011).
According to the findings mentioned before, 57% of those whose families chose not to speak or spend time with them had attempted to put an end to their lives (Haas et al., 2014). On 28 December 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a teenager of 17 years who was born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, walked on the Interstate 71 in Ohio at 2.30 at night and was hit by a lorry. Before, she had scheduled her "Suicide Note" on Tumblr to be published at 5.30 p.m. In this note, she described her dilemma, her isolation, what if felt like to be rejected by her family, to hate oneself, and not to see a way out. Her suicide note attracted 82.271 views within 48 hours and by 31 December was reposted on Tumblr 200.000 times (via). Shortly after it was published, a great many people started sharing their stories with the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtag (e.g. "If you're a trans teen and you can't imagine your life going forward, I'm 39, I'm a professor and blogger, and I'm happy") trying to tell transgender teenagers that they made it although it was difficult (via). Since her mother continued misgendering Leelah, a petition with 80.000 signatures called for her chosen name to be used on her tombstone in order to respect her wishes (via). The facebook group "Justice for Leelah Alcorn" was established, the Transgender Human Rights Institute started the petition "Leelah's Law" to ban conversion therapy and had around 300.000 signatures by 8 January, a candlelight vigil took place in New York City, another one in London, marches were carried out in Washington, D.C. and Auckland. According to "The Independent", her death "triggered widespread anguish and raised a debate about the rights of transgender people". The "Boston Globe" stated that the incident "served as a flashpoint for transgender progress in 2014." (via).
(...) My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. (...) Fix society. Please." (via)

- Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Harrison, J., Herman, J. L. & Keisling, M. (2011) Injustice at Every Turn. A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Washington: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- Haas, A. P., Rodgers, P. L. & Herman, J. L. (2014) Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults. Findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. (via)
- photograph "Hats in the Garment District, New York" taken in 1930 by Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) via, photograph "Commuters" taken by Gordon Parks (1912-2006) in 1946 via


  1. Shocking and heartbreaking, indeed. Thank you for leaving your comments, Derek and Kenneth.